Today was the 12th time in Yankee history that they played into the 18th inning, and today they played 5 hours and 35 minutes before the A’s won it in the bottom of the 18th with an RBI single. Basically, it was like a very long doubleheader, where both teams used up their bullpens (save Chamberlain who pitched last night).
Starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda actually had a pretty decent outing, throwing 8 full innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs. Both runs were scored in the 3rd inning, one on a ground out and one on a nice right field double. Kuroda was replaced by Robertson, Logan, Kelley, Warren (for 6 full strong innings), Claiborne (who took the loss, as it was his runner that scored to win the game off his replacement), and then Rivera (who failed to make a single out to stop Oakland from winning).
The Athletics scored their final run over 5 hours before the first run of the game was scored. It was Robinson Cano’s 2-run home run back in the 1st inning that planted the Yankees at 2-0, later tied 2-2 for 15 innings (18th – 3rd, when A’s scored).
Part of the reason the Yankees lost was a questionable call at home in the 3rd inning, due to Chris Stewart’s placement of the ball in his glove when he tagged the runner coming home; it was ultimately decided he didn’t have it in his glove and thus the runner was safe. But Stewart made up for the error by a really fantastic block of a runner; assisted by a long, strong throw by Left Fielder Vernon Wells, Stewart stood his ground and kept a walk-off from occurring within his reach in the 15th inning. This was really the play of the day, and an excellent example of the great defense we have behind the plate.
I cannot remember the last time I watched a game this long, with consecutive play and no weather or other major delays. I mean, we’ve been dealing with weather delays a lot this year, more than usual it seems. I think this is a fun coincidence since I was reading an article about people who complain about how long baseball games are. The average professional football game is 3:06, basketball is 2:30, hockey is 3:05, and baseball is 2:57. That’s right, baseball is actually shorter than an average hockey or football game, but there are no half-time shows or cheerleaders or entertainment (short of rating the singers of the national anthem and “God Bless America”). So the crowd boos when “time takers” occur like pick-offs at 1st base or coaching visits to the mound or the batter stepping in and out of the box multiple times. But they don’t boo when the football coach calls for his 500th time out in double overtime. It’s the same time consumer, so what’s the difference? Entertainment? That’s why some stadiums have silly hot dog (or fish or dead president or condiments or subway trains or Pepsi bottles) races or shoot shirts and softballs into the crowd or other “entertaining” (and marketing) shows during this “down time” (or the commercial break, if you’re watching for home).
But I’m one of those people who think that if it takes longer to play the game, it just makes my ticket more valuable. Think about it. Technically, you’ve rented those seats for a 24-hour period, so the longer you use them, the more you get out of them, thus making your money go further. Say you bought a $50 ticket to today’s game, and they played 18 innings, which should have cost you $100 (for two games), but you got a full game for free just by staying in your seat for the full game.
So I’m going to say now: I really hate it when people get up and leave before the game ends (short of an emergency or family issue, which I totally support — family comes first, always). But as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And Oakland fans that stayed the full 5 1/2 hours got a treat today by seeing their team win in such a late fashion. But it really could have just as easily been the Yankees — you just never know until it’s over.
Also, what will seem like great news for Yankee fans is that Derek Jeter is officially healing and has been cleared for to begin running and resuming baseball activity, which will happen in gradual increase over the next few weeks. This doesn’t set a clear-cut timetable for his return, but it does give those who doubted a promise that he will return. Much like Rivera did last year, there’s no way Jeter is going out limping. I should be clear that Jeter isn’t anywhere near retirement. Though people seem to get a kick out of his age (the number will be increasing in a couple of weeks), he will be the last of the Core Four to hit 40, and with Pettitte and Rivera still pitching strong into their 40’s, I don’t see any reason to think Jeter (with proper rehab and careful timing) can’t come back and play well into his 40’s as well. After all, they’re from a different generation of players, Yankee lifers who excelled under Torre’s guidance and helped reinvent Yankee baseball (and much of baseball itself). Keep healing, keep strong, and we’ll see you when we see you — probably in that crucial time to which you’ve been dubbed — the “Clutch”.